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Grey's Anatomy fans will remember Isaiah Washington for his portrayal of driven surgeon Preston Burke, who left the show after season three. The reason behind his departure? Off-screen tensions between Washington and co-star T.R. Knight, who played George O' Malley.
The two allegedly exchanged heated words on set of the medical drama, which escalated with Washington calling Knight, who was then not publicly out, a "f----t". It was recently announced that Washington will be reprising his role as Burke in a special episode at the end of this season, as a farewell to beloved character Cristina Yang. Sandra Oh, who plays Yang, will be leaving the show after season 10.
To say the announcement has ruffled some feathers would be an understatement. Many fans are left confused as to why Washington should be allowed back on set after using a homophobic slur.
The incident happened in 2007. Washington has apologized for his statements, and The Hollywood Reporter notes that GLAAD is in support of the actor returning to the show, saying "His PSA and his statements promoting marriage equality in recent years have sent a strong message of support for LGBT people."
It's time to forgive and forget, and let Washington return to give closure to the character of Yang.
Who can forget the last scene of the season three finale, which had Cristina being cut out of her wedding dress after being left at the altar by Burke? She sobbed as Meredith hastily slit open the back of her gown, but through her tears she said "I'm free." We later saw Cristina struggle in her relationship with Owen Hunt, who pressured her to marry him and provide children.
But Cristina isn't that kind of woman. She's a surgeon first, a dedicated academic who has pursued her career full-speed, not wanting to sacrifice being a surgeon for being a wife and mother. We know this and we love her for it. In a way, Burke leaving her at the altar was the biggest gift he could have given her -- he didn't trap her into a relationship he knew she could never thrive in.
Even still, he's the best romantic match for Cristina, if only because he understands that her career must come first. I'm interested to see what a meeting between the two of them would look like, now that Cristina has really discovered who she is.
At the time of their relationship, Cristina was still an intern learning from her teachers. Remember when Burke got shot in the arm, leading to nerve damage that should have kept him from surgery? Cristina was there, the unseen hand in the background, doing the surgeries he couldn't and taking no credit. Remember this scene?
Season 10 has Cristina up for the Harper Avery award herself, seven years after Burke won it for the work that she did. It's an important milestone in Cristina's career, but lingering in the background is the unspoken controversy with Burke. Having him return at this pivotal moment in her career puts a period mark next to that time in her life where she received no credit for her work.
Let him come back. Give Cristina the closure that she never got in season three. After all, it wouldn't be Grey's Anatomy without a good controversy.
Interested in reading the other side to this opinion? Check out the rebuttal here.
image courtesy of ABC